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XR8 leading Ford Falcon interest

It's back: Ford says it has experienced significant pre-launch buzz for its re-born Falcon XR8 sedan, which rolls into showrooms next week.

Ford not expecting huge growth from final Falcon despite huge interest in XR8

Ford logo26 Nov 2014

By TIM NICHOLSON

FORD Australia says it is not expecting a huge lift in sales for its swansong Falcon, despite experiencing strong pre-launch in the re-born XR8 performance flagship.

The final Australian-built Falcon lobs in Ford dealerships on December 1 with a trimmed down line-up kicking off with the base variant – now simply called Falcon – from $35,900, plus on-road costs, and headlined by the 335kW/570Nm V8-powered XR8.

Ford Australia marketing manager David Katic told GoAuto at the Falcon's media launch in northern Victoria this week that the company expected renewed interest in the Aussie family car, but he did not disclose specific targets.

“We have got a plan for the next two years on Falcon and we are really confident the actions we have taken on Falcon, Territory and (Falcon) Ute will deliver that volume,” he said.

“We are not looking for volumes to grow by 50 per cent or anything like that but we feel very confident that the plan we have got, particularly with examples like XR8 and the response we have had there, we think that will really give our volumes a good support base. We are very confident.” The FG Falcon has averaged between 400 and 700 sales per month so far in 2014 - a decline on 2013 when Ford sold between 600 and 1200 Falcons a month, ending the year on 10,610 sales.

That figure was a 24.4 per cent drop over the 2012 haul of 14,036, highlighting the sliding interest in the locally-built sedan in recent years. In 2011, 18,741 Falcons found homes in Australia, but in 2010 the Blue Oval sold 29,516 units.

Ford Australia president and CEO Bob Graziano told GoAuto that current sales levels were enough to sustain the Victorian production facilities in Broadmeadows and Geelong, which are scheduled to close in October 2016.

“We have capacitised now to 83 vehicles a day and so that’s what we are planning to,” he said. “We are getting the vehicles out to the dealers now and we will get an early read on what the consumers think of it.” When asked if the initial interest in the final Falcon could spur sales to previous levels of 1000-plus units a month, Mr Graziano said Australian buyers would decide the volumes.

“It’s going to be up to the Australian consumer,” he said. “We put our best foot forward with these products and I think the team has done an absolutely terrific job with the vehicles and I couldn’t be more pleased or more proud of it.” In terms of promoting the FG X Falcon, Mr Katic said Ford will target buyers through social media channels rather than television commercials.

He highlighted Ford’s recent Falcon Fanatics marketing video that used a human racetrack to showcase the XR8 and has subsequently been viewed 250,000 times.

“One great thing about Falcon, it’s been such an iconic brand for us for such a long time,” he said.

“We know the customer. They are really eager to have a relationship with us. Falcon Fanatics is a really good example going forward of how we want to market and engage the consumers.

“Everyone says 'oh you’ve got a TV ad’ and that stuff, but there a lots of ways these days to get to consumers and most importantly start a two-way dialogue. With Falcon Fanatics it was a great example of an idea where you can market the products, you can also get consumer engagement in the product and they can help tell your story.

Mr Katic said the popularity of the XR8, even before launch, highlighted the benefits of engagement with fans online.

“That’s what we will do going forward because we are finding it's really working and the proof is the sales. We have been bowled over by XR8 demand.

“XR8 is going fantastically well and we really believe it's because it is a great product, but also because we have engaged fans early, months before the product hit.” While fans and social media will play their part, Mr Katic said Ford Australia is holding a drive event for its employees, who he says are the company's best ambassadors.

“It's hard to sell product if you don’t believe in the product. We are getting all of our employees through and they are coming back loving it and really engaged with it.”

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